€120 Million Expansion for Lamb Weston/Meijer Potato Plant

Kruiningen, Netherlands-headquartered Lamb Weston/Meijer, a joint venture between Omaha Nebraska, USA-based ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston and Meijer Frozen Food, on December 4 announced plans to invest €120 million (approximately $150 million) to expand its frozen potato processing operation in Bergen op Zoom.

The project, which is being financed directly by Lamb Weston/Meijer, will add a second production line to the facility, which is in the south of Holland. The result will be an increase in capacity for making french fries and other premium frozen potato products, along with the creation of about 50 new jobs once the upgraded plant is fully operational in the middle of 2016.

The expansion is consistent with ConAgra Foods’ strategy to grow its international business. As large-scale quick serve restaurant chain customers grow their businesses around the globe, Lamb Weston/Meijer aims to keep pace by boosting volume and enhancing its logistics capability to fulfill their requirements. International consumption of frozen potato products continues to climb across multiple distribution channels, with demand in the worldwide frozen potato sector projected to rise by 1.8 billion pounds between 2013 and 2018.

Earlier this year Lamb Weston/Meijer allocated €20 million to build a new, state-of-the-art potato grading area at its flagship factory in Kruiningen. The investment involved replacing former production buildings with a single potato reception and sorting area. The installation of a number of fully automated sorting lines was needed to make the complex potato sorting process considerably simpler and more efficient. A single flowing line, from arrival and sorting of tubers to processing in the plant, is now in place.

In business since 1994, Lamb Weston/Meijer today operates five facilities – three in the Netherlands, and one each in the United Kingdom and Austria – with combined capacity of 650,000 tons per annum. The company employs more than 1,300 people and exports finished products to numerous countries in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and beyond.

ConAgra logo“ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston is well positioned to meet customers’ emerging market growth through a highly efficient, well-established dual sourcing model supplying our client base with frozen potato products from both North America and Europe,” said Paul Maass, president of ConAgra’s Private Brands and Commercial Foods divisions. “In addition, local potato sourcing and production will play an important role in the future for select countries, such as China, where we expect the most growth.”

Meanwhile, ConAgra Foods began production at its recently acquired frozen potato factory in Shangdu, Inner Mongolia, on Oct. 31 after upgrading the facility to meet exacting standards for employee safety, food safety and quality.

Elsewhere, in June Lamb Weston completed the expansion of its frozen potato plant in Boardman, Oregon, USA, which supplies domestic clients in addition to customers in export markets.